With the playoffs starting to get out of reach, the Buffalo Sabres need to use this time to not fold on the season but to find a way to grow.
In their first game back from the NHL trade deadline, the Buffalo Sabres fell 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche, showing that this team still jas a way to go to prove they can take the next step.
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Even if this team doesn’t make the playoffs, having a player like Simmonds who can provide that voice in the locker room that can put the team in the right direction.
It won’t come easily but if they can start to show progress as they did against Colorado, the team can establish some sort of identity going into next season.
"“Good team. Really good team. I think we played a strong game,” Simmonds said after Wednesday’s game. “We didn’t carry it for all 60 minutes, but I thought we played well for a large chunk of that game there. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the equalizer there.”"
The benefit the team gets with Simmonds is that he can bring a different perspective into the Sabres room while also playing for a contract. How many times has this team just closed the book on a season hoping that things will be different when October comes around?
Seeing Jack Eichel have a breakout season should provide some hope that things can be different in Buffalo but that can only improve if the supporting cast steps up. This obviously includes Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson who are all key parts of the team’s core.
They will have cap space to potentially make some changes and one obvious one should be their goaltending considering Hutton, Linus Ullmark and Jonas Johansson have a combined 3.08 GAA and .901 save percentage this season.
It doesn’t matter what the team does upfront or on the blue line, no team in the NHL can overcome below-average goaltending. There could be options on the free-agent market with players like Braden Holtby, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss, Jacob Markstrom, and Jaroslav Halak.
There could also be options in the trade market depending on how the rest of the season plays out but that should be the area of focus for Botterill. That will depend on whether Sabres’ ownership is willing to be patient or try to find another solution to get the team going in the right direction.
Can the Sabres get themselves on the right path? Do they need to make serious changes going forward or do they need to avoid making too many drastic changes? Let us know in the comments below.